Gladiator Metals (TSX-V: GLAD)(OTC: GDTRF) CEO Jason Bontempo on Drilling & Proving to the Market Just How Much Copper Hudbay Left Behind at the Whitehorse Project, Yukon


Gerardo Del Real: This is Gerardo Del Real with Resource Stock Digest. Joining me today is the CEO of Gladiator Metals — Mr. Jason Bontempo. Jason, it's great to have you on. You and I had a really good opportunity to chat at PDAC. 

We talked about the great share structure this company has. We talked about the project and the upside. And I know how excited you are about that. I want to get into all of that. But before that, I would love for you to introduce yourself a bit just to give us a bit about your background.

Jason Bontempo: Hi, Gerardo. Thanks. I've been in the resource industry for almost 20 years, and I've been in various roles with various juniors, bringing assets to market and from a financial training background. But I have to say, this project, this opportunity, Gladiator has really, really revitalized me and excited me just to keep going. 

There's always a hidden jewel out there, and I think I've found one here, Gerardo.

Gerardo Del Real: Let's get right into it. I'll get the great share structure out of the way for you because it's important to our audience, and it's the first thing that I look at when I look at a company. I know that a few of the people within our group recently looked and really, really were impressed by how clean the structure was. 

You have roughly 29 million shares outstanding with, call it, just shy of 10 million warrants and stock options out there. Fully diluted, it's 38.12 million shares outstanding. The market cap is right under C$11 million. 

And listen, let me tell you two things because I know you love the project and I want you to explain why. I love two things about this. One, it's copper, and I absolutely think that in the mid to long-term, we're going to get into a raging copper bull market. 

Two, is the jurisdiction. It's absolutely top-notch. And those are two huge de-riskers of a project anytime someone's going to allocate capital into a speculative sector like the junior resource space.

Now with that being said, let's get right into the asset. What is it that excites you so much about this project?

Jason Bontempo: Well, Gerardo, I said it was a hidden jewel, and I meant it because this is a past-producing site by Hudbay Mining Company. And they had a 30-km-long mineralized copper belt, which, really, in essence, they only picked at the surface. They only essentially mined what they could see. 

And even then, the bulk of what they produced — which was a reasonable amount at the time from 1967-1982 of just over 10 million tonnes at 1.5% copper — including gold and silver, it was a good quarter of a million ounces of gold. 

They dropped the shovel in 1982, and what they left, really, was a copper project for the future because the copper price crashed in '82. That's the only reason they stopped. There was nothing wrong with the project. And, of course, you fast-forward over 40 years, and 1.5% average grade from surface for copper… that's three times the average mined copper grade today.

So really, I came across this, and I said, ‘Wow, what have we got here!’ And what I love about this project is it's already there. It's already there, and I get the great job to reveal what is there in time as we are required with our regulatory standards to have to produce information. 

But why I'm bursting at the seams to tell everyone, really, the copper resources that are there… I mean, it's a big system, Gerardo. There's copper everywhere. And what I love about it is when we went to do our due diligence last year — just on the historic drilling that Hudson Bay did back then, as well as the private owner that had it, H. Coyne, our partners, and the drilling that they did — from our perspective, there's already a fundamental significant copper resource and deposit at the project. 

And so we just now need to go through the process of being able to accurately and correctly report that with the regulatory standards and 43-101 requirements. So there's so much information to come out. And in particular, Hudson Bay already did a lot of exploration work for us. 

There are a number of, I have to call them, prospects, even though they called them deposits, that they discovered, found, drilled, but never mined. And so, fast-forward 40 years, and our geologists are looking at these prospects and resources and, really, they are just accounted at surface. But they've never really assessed what lies beneath. 

So it's pretty exciting. And what you'll find over the next three months is that we have news coming. We have the historical drilling that we're going to release that we've been digitizing, we've been reviewing and studying. It's never been done before, by the way. There are 800 holes at this project in Whitehorse, and they've never been digitized and analyzed.

Then, we've got 10,000 meters of diamond core that has not been logged and assayed. These were core drilled by our current partner. I mean, what's that worth? That's got to be worth whatever it is, C$10 million, call it, just there. And then, we've got our own drilling that we're going to kick off in mid-April… so there's an abundance of news coming out. 

And to me, it's more of a reveal. We're saying, ‘Hey, look what's here guys!’ And it's been hiding for 40 years. It's essentially never been to the stock market, particularly in its entirety as a 30-km-long mineralized copper system. I mean it's a big system. 

I honestly think that the market, when we start releasing news, they're going to go — ‘Wow… what… where?!’ — to the point where they'll think it's a discovery but it's been there the whole time. So that's why I love the project, Gerardo. I love it because I feel like we've found it already, and now we have to go through the proper work to be able to report it, essentially.

Gerardo Del Real: I want to emphasize something you said there. You mentioned your partner. Assuming everything goes as well as you plan it to go, you have the option over time to earn into 100% of the project, correct?

Jason Bontempo: Correct, yes. It's a C$12 million spend over six years.

Gerardo Del Real: Excellent. You mentioned another thing that I think it's important to highlight: you mentioned 10,000 meters of unsampled drill cores. So essentially, you have a heck of a headstart on news flow for the simple fact that you already have 10,000 meters that you're working on to get out to the market. 

I want to emphasize again some of the historic holes from the project: 10.67 meters at 6.93% copper from 85 meters, 23.16 meters of 3.19% copper from 80 meters, 18.44 meters at 4.42% copper from 56 meters. I could go on and on. 

You mentioned the prospects. There are 30 known prospects within a 35 km by 5 km area. And as you mentioned, again, this is a past-producing project that hasn't seen any drilling in decades. 

Jason Bontempo: Well, modern day, systematic exploration… no modern day systematic exploration for 40 years.

Gerardo Del Real: That's absolutely fascinating when you take into account what's already there, what's been produced in the past. And just the scale of this is what I think should be exciting to speculators out there.

Let's talk about the jurisdiction. I mentioned it was a top-notch jurisdiction. You have year-round access, you have a grid with hydropower. Talk to me about what it's like working there.

Jason Bontempo: Well, you mentioned our partners. So our partners also happen to own a very successful global drilling business, and they operate that business out of Whitehorse. So we have excellent access to services and, in particular, to drilling services.

But also, we've got a great foundation in the city of Whitehorse for access to other resources. Excellent, obviously, highway infrastructure. The drill results you quoted are from Cowley Park, which only sits about 10 km outside the city of Whitehorse. So from access to resources and skilled labor — it's perfect. 

You also have lots of geologists and technical operators. They love working on this project because the camp is a city; it's the city of Whitehorse. It's right there. The province of Yukon is obviously flying at the moment and they definitely are looking to a mining future.

I mean, you only have to look at the rigs and the announcement of the agreement that the Yukon government has come with the municipality of Skagway where there's a port, and they've come to an arrangement to upgrade that port to a more significant mining and ore processing facility port.

Minto Metals, which is a copper producer about 120 kilometers north of Whitehorse City, is already shipping out of Skagway. So again, another example of not only infrastructure for the future of this project but a very positive outlook on mining development from the Yukon government when they're looking to come to these agreements and invest into this infrastructure as well. 

And then, need I mention the other operators in the area with Banyan Gold and Snowline Gold having huge success with their discovery; Victoria Gold, Western Copper & Gold. So it's a great place to be. It's fantastic.

Gerardo Del Real: Walk me through what the news flow is going to look like the next several quarters. You're going to have a ton of it. What's the next order of things?

Jason Bontempo: Very simply, in three components. The first component is that we have digitized over 800 drill holes that were drilled between Hudson Bay and our partners H. Coyne & Sons over the last 40 years. So we've only released a little sample of those that you alluded to a little bit earlier at Cowley Park. 

So there's going to be a gradual release of this drilling at the different prospect areas over the next three to four months. And may I reiterate, this has never been done before. We are pulling out boxes and double checking them and digitizing and then throwing them into models and spinning them around and having a good look and showing the potential of actually what's there. So there's that news. That's the first one.

The second component of news is we have now set up a core cutting facility, and we're going to start working through that 10,000 meters of core that's just sitting there. Now, just to give you an idea, it's not like we haven't looked at it. 

Our geologists have inspected that core already. And yes, they have made a lot of visuals of copper-bearing minerals; bornite, chalcopyrite. So there's a reason why we are investing in setting up this core cutting. So over the next three to six months, there's going to be the release of that information.

And then, the third will be the results of our own drilling. So our drilling will commence mid-April. We have an initial 3,000 meter program, and I can assure you that we have a lot more meters planned. 

And that's just the beginning. We're going into Cowley Park, and we're just going to show everyone that, ‘Hey, not only can we tell you from historical with some great results — let's show you ourselves.’ 

So three easy, understandable components of information that's going to be coming out in news over the next six months.

Gerardo Del Real: Jason, I suspect you and I will be chatting frequently. There's a lot of news flow to come. You have a tiny market cap. You have a spectacular share structure. You have a project with significant scale. This is going to be a fun story to watch play out. I'm looking forward to having you back on. Anything else you want to add?

Jason Bontempo: Not really. Obviously, watch this space. We're very excited, in particular, to be able to show what we think is already there, Gerardo, and then, obviously, what potentially could be there as well. 

Looking forward to speaking to you more as the news comes out… and then digesting and dissecting and discussing what the news means as it comes out.

Gerardo Del Real: Fantastic! Jason, thank you for your time. Appreciate it.

Jason Bontempo: Thanks, Gerardo.

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